The growing potential of pulse crops in Canada
With 2016 marked as the International Year of Pulses, pulses in Canada exceeded 10 million acres, making it the largest season for the crop in history. This hot commodity has been on an upward trend for the past 15 years, and the growing demand has many growers throughout Western Canada pursuing its potential and growing the crop for the first time.
Stan Schulmeister, from Castor, Alberta, is one such grower. “The price and market opportunity in lentils caught our attention. We saw some amazing prices last year and we are seeing the same this year. With the growing demand, I wanted to try growing them. No one in this area has grown lentils, but we like to try different things and until you try it yourself, you just never know.”
“Our first crop of lentils only yielded 20 bushels per acre. But we were so wet this year throughout the entire growing season. I know those that were drier yielded better. We were a little disappointed.”
The less than desirable growing conditions in regions of Western Canada did bring challenges for many other first-time pulse growers, but Bryce Geisel, Technical Marketing Specialist, BASF, urges growers not to be discouraged.
“Capturing the growing potential of pulses starts with pre-season planning, as weed pressure in a wet year can be a barrier to a good crop.” He also said that there are solutions for maximizing yield and quality even in tough growing conditions.
“When it comes to disease management in pulses, you need to be aggressive and plan for worst case scenarios. Then a good year becomes a great year,” said Geisel.
Geisel recommends that growers consider multiple application timings to best manage weeds and support crop potential. Starting with a fall application (pre-season) can help with those hard-to-manage perennial weeds, while a spring application takes care of early weeds like cleavers, kochia and volunteer canola. Using a product like Heat LQ pre-seed is a great resistance management option, as it contains Group 14 chemistry, allowing growers to preserve the Group 2 chemistry for in-crop applications. For a more manageable harvest, Heat LQ can be used as a harvest aid, drying down the plant and controlling weeds in the Fall, ensuring a clean field for next Spring.
To further protect the potential of the crop, Geisel said growers should also plan to spray more than once with a fungicide that provides multiple modes of action, like Priaxor. He said many growers risk not adequately spraying as they are concerned with costs, but he assures growers that it will pay off.
Geisel advises that best practices for growing pulses also include prompt harvest planning to avoid frost and ensure that moisture does not affect grading.
“With a little planning, capturing the potential of this growing opportunity in pulses is possible – in any weather,” concluded Geisel.
© 2017 BASF Canada Inc.